A Chinese warship reportedly harassed a Greek-owned oil tanker with Filipino crew members near Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
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Chinese ship harassment of Filipino-crewed tanker not our concern — Palace
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - November 4, 2019 - 10:39am

MANILA, Philippines — The report that a Chinese vessel harassed a Filipino-crewed commercial ship near Scarborough or Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea does not concern the country, Malacañang said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said it has yet to verify a Rappler report that a Chinese ship that identified itself as a "naval warship" harassed Greek-owned, Liberia-registered oil tanker Green Aura.

"It does not concern us because it's not a Philippine vessel," presidential spokesperson Panelo said in a press briefing over the weekend.

Green Aura, however, has Filipino crew members, including its captain Manolo Ebora.

"For as long as they do not touch the Philippine ship or vessel, it will be the concern of that country that carries the flag of that particular vessel," Panelo said.

According to Rappler, Ebora said the Chinese ship ordered the international oil tanker to stay 10 nautical miles away from Scarborough Shoal, a traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales.

The Green Aura refused to change its course and came within about six nautical miles from the shoal, which the Chinese vessel claimed as Chinese territory.

The Chinese warship then moved toward the Filipino-crewed tanker in an attempt to block its passage.

In a radio call with the Chinese ship, which introduced itself as the Chinese Coast Guard, Ebora insisted on innocent passage.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the incident should not be blown out of proportion or sensationalized as the Green Aura safely reached its destination.

The Filipino-crewed tanker was on its way to China from Thailand when it received a call from the Chinese warship.

Lorenzana, however, called on China to respect international maritime laws "if it wants to earn the respect of the international community."

"We, however, would like to reiterate our call for all countries to exercise prudence and respect freedom of navigation and passage in the West Philippine Sea. Bajo de Masinloc is well within the Philippine exclusive economic zone, and the 2016 arbitral ruling declared that it is a common fishing area," Lorenzana said.

CHINA-PHILIPPINES TIES DELFIN LORENZANA PANATAG SHOAL SALVADOR PANELO SCARBOROUGH SHOAL SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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